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We are all leaving now!

by davesandel on March 14th, 2021

Fourth Sunday of Lent, March 14, 2021                    (today’s lectionary)

We are all leaving now!

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, so that whosoever believes in him shall have everlasting life. Whoever lives the truth comes to the light.

We sat, four couples, around two tables quickly arranged for our reunion at the Christian Community Church in Murray, Kentucky. A long drive from Texas brought us to this covid-conscious shared meal with several of Margaret’s closest friends from her college years. 50 years ago they worked together to start a campus ministry.

We spent the night with Mom and Pop Call, the elders of their community back then, and now as well. We all have gray hair, some of us have cancer and are recovering, a couple of us have issues with knees and hips. Of course there was conversation about our aches and pains.

Another one of us just lost her husband. We won’t see her until tomorrow. She is the most traveled of us all, and she told us she spends some time at home sorting through stuff, then leaves for awhile. She’s done that three times, and this last time, “I stayed at home too long.” Her tears are always near.

Early and often did the Lord, the God of their fathers, send his messengers, for he had compassion on his people.

We have all been “Christian” parents. Our kids have “various” relationships with God. They all fit the categories described in Proverbs 22:6. “Bring up a child in the way she should go, and when she is old she will not depart from it.” Now several of us are grandparents, and for us the same ancient categories apply.

Solomon wrote Proverbs not quite two thousand years ago. None of us around the table has yet reached the four score mark, and some of our grandkids are barely born. Sitting there, eating jambalaya, I was captured by the power of time. The power of now, of course, and the power of tomorrow, but especially the power of countless yesterdays.

May my tongue cleave to my palate if I remember you not, if I place not Jerusalem ahead of my joy.

How is this night different from all other nights?” Mah nishtana, ha-laylay ha-zeh, mi-koi ha-leylot? When we attend a seder it’s for fun and we go with a spirit of ecumenism. But one of our group is a Jewish Christian, a Messianic Jew. He goes to remember the passing of God’s angel of death over the ancient doors, marked on the threshold at the Lord’s command by the blood of sheep. He goes to remember the night his family girded their loins and began the exodus from Egypt, led by Moses who was led by God.

The pharaoh’s angry dismissal was echoed later with more compassion by King Cyrus:

Whoever, therefore, among you belongs to any part of his people, let him go up, and may his God be with him!

We are separated from that night by thousands of years … but still, the spirit is right here, right now. It’s only in my imagination that I am protected at all from uncertainty and fear like they experienced while they waited in the night, listened to the wailing of Egyptian mothers, hoping for the call, “Come out! Rise up! We are all leaving now!”

We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.

And just as our grandkids do every day, I can dance and sing the glory of the Lord, alongside Moses’ sister Miriam as we walk away first toward, and then away from the Red Sea, pounding the path with our sandals. With our words and choices going before us every day, we too hope to be moving away from slavery into freedom.

(2 Chronicles 36, Psalm 137, Ephesians 2, John 3)

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